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“O the Depth of God’s . . . Wisdom!”

“O the Depth of God’s . . . Wisdom!”

1, 2. What was Jehovah’s purpose for the seventh day, and how was divine wisdom put to the test at the start of this day?

RUINED! Mankind, the crowning glory of the sixth creative day, suddenly plummeted from the heights to the depths. Jehovah had pronounced “everything he had made,” including humankind, “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) But at the start of the seventh day, Adam and Eve chose to follow Satan into rebellion. They plunged into sin, imperfection, and death.

2 It might have appeared that Jehovah’s purpose for the seventh day had been thrown hopelessly off track. That day, like the six that preceded it, was to be thousands of years long. Jehovah had pronounced it sacred, and it would ultimately see the whole earth made into a paradise filled with a perfect family of mankind. (Genesis 1:28; 2:3) But after the catastrophic rebellion, how could such a thing ever come about? What would God do? Here was a dramatic test of Jehovah’s wisdom—perhaps the ultimate test.

3, 4. (a) Why is Jehovah’s response to the rebellion in Eden an awe-inspiring example of his wisdom? (b) Humility should move us to keep what truth in mind as we study Jehovah’s wisdom?

3 Jehovah responded immediately. He pronounced sentence on the rebels in Eden, and at the same time, he provided a glimpse of something wondrous: his purpose to remedy the ills they had just set in motion. (Genesis 3:15) Jehovah’s farsighted purpose extends from Eden through all the thousands of years of human history and onward, far into the future. It is elegantly simple yet so profound  that a Bible reader could spend a rewarding lifetime in studying and contemplating it. Furthermore, Jehovah’s purpose is absolutely sure of success. It will put an end to all wickedness, sin, and death. It will bring faithful mankind to perfection. All of this will come about before the seventh day ends, so that, despite everything, Jehovah will have fulfilled his purpose for the earth and mankind right on schedule!

4 Such wisdom inspires awe, does it not? The apostle Paul was moved to write: “O the depth of God’s . . . wisdom!” (Romans 11:33) As we undertake a study of various aspects of this divine quality, humility should move us to keep a vital truth in mind—that, at best, we can only scratch the surface of Jehovah’s vast wisdom. (Job 26:14) First, let us define this awe-inspiring quality.

What Is Divine Wisdom?

5, 6. What is the relationship between knowledge and wisdom, and how extensive is Jehovah’s knowledge?

5 Wisdom is not the same as knowledge. Computers can store enormous amounts of knowledge, but it is hard to imagine anyone calling such machines wise. Nonetheless, knowledge and wisdom are related. (Proverbs 10:14) For instance, if you needed wise counsel on treating a serious health problem, would you consult someone with little or no knowledge of medicine? Hardly! So accurate knowledge is essential to true wisdom.

6 Jehovah has a boundless store of knowledge. As the “King of eternity,” he alone has been alive forever. (Revelation 15:3) And during all those untold ages, he has been aware of everything. The Bible says: “There is not a creation that is not manifest to his sight, but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom  we have an accounting.” (Hebrews 4:13; Proverbs 15:3) As the Creator, Jehovah has full understanding of what he has made, and he has observed all human activity from the start. He examines each human heart, missing nothing. (1 Chronicles 28:9) Having created us as free moral agents, he is pleased when he sees that we are making wise choices in life. As the “Hearer of prayer,” he listens to countless expressions at once! (Psalm 65:2) And needless to say, Jehovah has a perfect memory.

7, 8. How does Jehovah display understanding, discernment, and wisdom?

7 Jehovah has more than knowledge. He also sees how facts interrelate and discerns the overall picture that is created by myriad details. He evaluates and judges, distinguishing between good and bad, important and trivial. Moreover, he looks beyond the surface and peers right into the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) Thus, Jehovah has understanding and discernment, qualities that are superior to knowledge. But wisdom is of a still higher order.

8 Wisdom brings knowledge, discernment, and understanding together and puts them to work. In fact, some of the original Bible words translated “wisdom” literally mean “effectual working” or “practical wisdom.” So Jehovah’s wisdom is not merely theoretical. It is practical, and it works. Drawing upon his breadth of knowledge and his depth of understanding, Jehovah always makes the best decisions possible, carrying them out by means of the best course of action conceivable. That is true wisdom! Jehovah demonstrates the truth of Jesus’ statement: “Wisdom is proved righteous by its works.” (Matthew 11:19) Jehovah’s works throughout the universe give powerful testimony to his wisdom.

 Evidences of Divine Wisdom

9, 10. (a) Jehovah demonstrates what type of wisdom, and how has he displayed it? (b) How does the cell give evidence of Jehovah’s wisdom?

9 Have you ever marveled at the ingenuity of a craftsman who makes beautiful things that work well? That is an impressive type of wisdom. (Exodus 31:1-3) Jehovah himself is the source of and the ultimate possessor of such wisdom. King David said of Jehovah: “I shall laud you because in a fear-inspiring way I am wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, as my soul is very well aware.” (Psalm 139:14) Indeed, the more we learn about the human body, the more we find ourselves awed by Jehovah’s wisdom.

10 To illustrate: You started as a single cell—an egg cell from your mother, fertilized by a sperm from your father. Soon, that cell started to divide. You, the end product, are made of some 100 trillion cells. They are tiny. About 10,000 average-sized cells would fit on the head of a pin. Yet, each one is a creation of mind-boggling complexity. The cell is far more intricate than any man-made machine or factory. Scientists say that a cell is like a walled city—one with controlled entrances and exits, a transportation system, a communications network, power plants, production plants, waste disposal and recycling facilities, defense agencies, and even a sort of central government in its nucleus. Furthermore, the cell can make a complete replica of itself within just a few hours!

11, 12. (a) What causes the cells in a developing embryo to differentiate, and how does this harmonize with Psalm 139:16? (b) In what ways does the human brain show that we are “wonderfully made”?

11 Not all cells are the same, of course. As the cells of an embryo continue to divide, they assume very different functions. Some will be nerve cells; others bone, muscle,  blood, or eye cells. All such differentiation is programmed into the cell’s “library” of genetic blueprints, the DNA. Interestingly, David was inspired to say to Jehovah: “Your eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing.”Psalm 139:16.

12 Some body parts are immensely complex. Consider, for example, the human brain. Some have called it the most complex object yet discovered in the universe. It contains some 100 billion nerve cells—about as many as the number of stars in our galaxy. Each of those cells branches off into thousands of connections with other cells. Scientists say that a human brain could contain all the information in all the world’s libraries and that its storage capacity may, in fact, be unfathomable. Despite decades of studying this “wonderfully made” organ, scientists admit that they may never fully understand how it works.

13, 14. (a) How do ants and other creatures show that they are “instinctively wise,” and what does that teach us about their Creator? (b) Why might we say that such creations as the spiderweb are made “in wisdom”?

13 Humans, however, are just one example of Jehovah’s creative wisdom. Psalm 104:24 says: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.” Jehovah’s wisdom is apparent in every creation around us. The ant, for example, is “instinctively wise.” (Proverbs 30:24) Indeed, ant colonies are superbly organized. Some ant colonies tend, shelter, and draw nourishment from insects called aphids as if these were livestock. Other ants act as farmers, raising and cultivating “crops” of fungus. Many other creatures have been programmed to do remarkable things by instinct. A common fly performs aerobatic feats that the most advanced of man’s aircraft cannot duplicate. Migrating birds navigate by the stars, by the orientation  of the earth’s magnetic field, or by some form of internal map. Biologists spend years studying the sophisticated behaviors that have been programmed into these creatures. How wise, then, the divine Programmer must be!

14 Scientists have learned much from Jehovah’s creative wisdom. There is even a field of engineering, called biomimetics, that seeks to mimic designs found in nature. For instance, you may have gazed in wonder at the beauty of a spiderweb. But an engineer sees it as a marvel of design. Some frail-looking strands are proportionately stronger than steel, tougher than the fibers in a bulletproof vest. Just how strong? Imagine a spiderweb enlarged in scale until it is the size of a net used on a fishing boat. Such a web could catch a passenger plane in mid-flight! Yes, Jehovah has made all such things “in wisdom.”

Who programmed earth’s creatures to be “instinctively wise”?

Wisdom Beyond the Earth

15, 16. (a) The starry heavens give what evidence of Jehovah’s wisdom? (b) How does Jehovah’s position as Supreme Commander over vast numbers of angels testify to the wisdom of this Administrator?

15 Jehovah’s wisdom is evident in his works throughout the universe. The starry heavens, which we discussed at some length in Chapter 5, are not scattered haphazardly throughout space. Thanks to the wisdom of Jehovah’s “celestial laws,” the heavens are beautifully organized into structured galaxies that, in turn, are grouped into clusters that, in turn, combine to form superclusters. (Job 38:33, The New Jerusalem Bible) No wonder that Jehovah refers to the heavenly bodies as an “army”! (Isaiah 40:26) There is another army, though, that even more vividly demonstrates Jehovah’s wisdom.

 16 As we noted in Chapter 4, God bears the title “Jehovah of armies” because of his position as Supreme Commander of a vast army of hundreds of millions of spirit creatures. This is proof of Jehovah’s power. How, though, is his wisdom involved? Consider: Jehovah and Jesus are never idle. (John 5:17) It stands to reason, then, that the angelic ministers of the Most High are likewise always busy. And remember, they are higher than man, superintelligent and superpowerful. (Hebrews 1:7; 2:7) Yet, Jehovah has kept all those angels busy, happily engaged in fulfilling work—“carrying out his word” and “doing his will”—for billions of years. (Psalm 103:20, 21) How awesome the wisdom of this Administrator must be!

Jehovah Is “Wise Alone”

17, 18. Why does the Bible say that Jehovah is “wise alone,” and why should his wisdom leave us awestruck?

17 In view of such evidence, is it any wonder that the Bible shows Jehovah’s wisdom to be superlative? For example, it says that Jehovah is “wise alone.” (Romans 16:27) Jehovah alone possesses wisdom in the absolute sense. He is the source of all true wisdom. (Proverbs 2:6) That is why Jesus, though the wisest of Jehovah’s creatures, did not rely on his own wisdom but spoke as his Father directed him.John 12:48-50.

18 Notice how the apostle Paul expressed the uniqueness of Jehovah’s wisdom: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are!” (Romans 11:33) By opening the verse with the exclamation “O,” Paul showed strong emotion—in this case, profound awe. The Greek word he chose for “depth” is closely related to the word for “abyss.” Hence, his words evoke a vivid mental picture. When we contemplate Jehovah’s wisdom, it is as if  we were gazing into a limitless, bottomless chasm, a realm so deep, so vast that we could never even grasp its immensity, let alone trace it out or map it in detail. (Psalm 92:5) Is that not a humbling thought?

19, 20. (a) Why is the eagle a fitting symbol of divine wisdom? (b) How has Jehovah demonstrated his ability to peer into the future?

19 Jehovah is “wise alone” in another sense: Only he is able to peer into the future. Remember, Jehovah uses the farseeing eagle to symbolize divine wisdom. A golden eagle may weigh a mere ten pounds (5 kg), but its eyes are larger than those of a full-grown man. The eagle’s eyesight is amazingly keen, enabling the bird to spot tiny prey from thousands of feet aloft, perhaps even from miles away! Jehovah himself once said of the eagle: “Far into the distance its eyes keep looking.” (Job 39:29) In a similar sense, Jehovah can look “far into the distance” of time—the future!

20 The Bible is full of evidence that this is true. It contains hundreds of prophecies, or history written in advance. The outcome of wars, the rise and fall of world powers, and even the specific battle strategies of military  commanders were all foretold in the Bible—in some cases, hundreds of years in advance.Isaiah 44:25–45:4; Daniel 8:2-8, 20-22.

21, 22. (a) Why is there no basis for concluding that Jehovah has foreseen all the choices you will make in life? Illustrate. (b) How do we know that Jehovah’s wisdom is not cold or devoid of feeling?

21 Does this mean, though, that God has already foreseen the choices you will make in life? Some who preach the doctrine of predestination insist that the answer is yes. However, that notion actually undermines Jehovah’s wisdom, for it implies that he cannot control his ability to look into the future. To illustrate: If you had a singing voice of unparalleled beauty, would you then have no choice but to sing all the time? The notion is absurd! Likewise, Jehovah has the ability to foreknow the future, but he does not use it all the time. To do so might infringe upon our own free will, a precious gift that Jehovah will never revoke.Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.

22 Worse yet, the very notion of predestination suggests that Jehovah’s wisdom is cold, devoid of heart, feeling, or compassion. But nothing could be further from the truth! The Bible teaches that Jehovah is “wise in heart.” (Job 9:4) Not that he has a literal heart, but the Bible often uses that term in connection with the innermost self, which includes motivations and feelings, such as love. So Jehovah’s wisdom, like his other qualities, is governed by love.1 John 4:8.

23. The superiority of Jehovah’s wisdom should move us to do what?

23 Naturally, Jehovah’s wisdom is perfectly trustworthy. It is so far above our own wisdom that God’s Word lovingly urges us: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6) Let us now delve into Jehovah’s wisdom so that we may draw closer to our all-wise God.